This year’s two-hour “Byron Allen Presents TheGrio Awards” event, which aired on CBS on November 26, continued to honor icons, leaders and legends who have made a positive impact on the Black community and culture.
Taking place at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, TheGrio Awards presented guests with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. From touching acceptance speeches to a legendary performance, there was much to see. Guests were surprised by a rendition of the song “Superwoman” (originally by Patti LaBelle, Dionne Warwick and Gladys Knight), performed by Yolanda Adams, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, Fantasia Barrino and Patti LaBelle.
There were twelve honorees at the black-tie ceremony. Comedian and actor Dave Chapelle was awarded the Cultural Icon Award, attorney Ben Crump received the Justice Icon Award and American track and field athlete Allyson Felix was honored with the Sports Icon Award.
Patti LaBelle was honored for her contribution to the music industry, Queen Latifah was awarded for her ongoing success in the television industry and Kenan Thompson for his impact on the comedy genre. Businessman and philanthropist Robert F. Smith was recognized with the Philanthropy Icon Awards, while Don Peebles received the Business Icon Award. Actor Tyler Perry was named an “Icon” with the Icon Award as was Jennifer Hudson with the Trailblazer Icon Award.
The youngest honoree was STEM wunderkind Alena Analeigh McQuarter who was the youngest Black person to be accepted into medical school in the United States and was given the Young Icon Award. Screenwriter Norman Lear was the oldest honoree, receiving the Champion Icon Award at the age of 100, and so was given his award from a safe distance at his own home.
CEO and chairman Byron Allen spoke on the importance of such an event, and why he felt it was missing in the industry.
“As a child, I was very fortunate. I had unbelievably strong, positive, Black influences, such as Berry Gordy Jr. and Rosa Parks and Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrating Black excellence is something that our children must always see because it inspires them to believe and to achieve, and to go places where they never thought they could go. But by seeing others, they know it’s possible,” explained Allen in a statement to Variety.
While Allen himself served as producer for the awards special, keyboard player Greg Phillinganes took on the role of musical director. TheGrio Awards were created in co-production by Allen Media Group and Backhand Productions.